Recap: ‘Nashville’: Old loves die hard
Despite what I said last week, before last night’s episode of ‘Nashville’ aired, I wasn’t sure if I loved the show because of the show, or if I loved the show because of Connie Britton. It’s a common problem when you follow an actor from show to show. Sometimes you’re blinded by your appreciation for their previous work (and their hair) – and when the person in question is Mrs. Coach, well, you may never know.
But after going back and forth for about 57 seconds, I decided it ultimately didn’t matter. Because in the end I was hooked – on the show, on Rayna, on hearing Britton say “y’all” again, and on the deep history of Rayna and Deacon (Charles Esten).
The love story between the two of them was only hinted at in the series premiere, and at the time I was unsure if it was one-sided (Deacon in love with Rayna) or if the love was, or had ever been, reciprocated.
In this week’s episode, “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love With You),” – talk about the most obvious episode title ever – we find out that the two were in a serious relationship back in the good ol’ days – and that they’d started out just like Scarlett and Gunnar, at the Bluebird Cafe singing heartfelt love songs and making googly eyes at each other.
It was an eleven year relationship that ended when Deacon went to rehab, for which Rayna paid – both literally and figuratively. But even though Rayna’s husband Teddy’s vulnerability experts – brought in to discover where Teddy, and thus, the family’s weaknesses lie – tried their best to uncover and unravel the tangled history of Rayna and Deacon – which is basically a walking, talking country song – Rayna shut them down.
It’s obvious to just about anyone with eyeballs that Rayna’s love for Deacon has never been extinguished . But in case you somehow missed the chemistry during the duo’s fight (and just about every time Britton and Esten share the screen) over the guitar gifted to Deacon by Juliette (more on that later), then all you had to do was watch the final scene of the two of them singing at the Bluebird.
Rayna, accused by Deacon earlier in the episode of never supporting him when he plays at the Bluebird every week, shows up during his set and the two sing an old love song they first performed on that very stage some twenty years prior, during the throes of their romance.
The lyrics to the song don’t really even matter – though they were beautiful and certainly helped to build the tension between the one-time lovers – just seeing the soulful eye contact filled with years of unspoken feelings would have been enough to make even the coldest of hearts melt. And subsequently made a very jealous and upset Juliette run from the bar in near tears.
As Rayna and Deacon sit alone in his truck after the show, she tells him, “I wish we hadn’t done that song,” to which he replies, “Now what are we going to do?” The subsequent silence that fills the truck is loud enough that I’m pretty certain Helen Keller probably heard it. The episode ends with Rayna arriving home to Teddy and embracing him in a hug as she tells him she loves him.
Sure you do, sweetie, sure you do.
But while the Rayna and Deacon love story was front and center for most of the episode, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Juliette and her $50,000 guitar – which in a weird way became the episode’s version of Chekhov’s gun.
Desperate to lure Deacon away from Rayna and into her band (and bed), she drags him to a verdant piece of land she owns, and which she claims was once owned by country royalty Tammy Wynette, to finish writing the song they’d apparently begun in the pilot. Once there, Juliette pulls out what the Internet tells me is a 1938 Martin guitar (give me a break, I’m a television freak, not a music guru) and Deacon is instantly in awe of the instrument.
Deacon’s past history as an addict makes him predisposed to making terrible decisions and desperate for attention and flattery, so by later giving him the guitar as a gift – in front of Rayna, of course – Juliette’s basically taunting him and willing him to make the wrong choice. But so far all he’s done is get a little frisky with Miss Sparkly Pants, while his music – and heart – still lie solely with Rayna.
But despite their tumultuous history, Rayna remains married to wet blanket Teddy, with whom she shares about zero chemistry. One can only assume that she married Teddy while Deacon was in rehab because she thought he was a stable and reliable investment in her future. He was a successful real estate investor until a project went suspiciously belly up – a project whose related documents met the business end of Teddy’s fireplace after he himself was grilled by the vulnerability crew.
Papa Wyatt prefers Teddy have secrets though, because he claims, “A mayor with secrets is easier to control.” That may be true, but a scorned daughter who is still trying to convince herself that she loves her husband and not her band leader might prove to be more difficult. When Lamar confronts Rayna at a fundraiser and asks why she was seen at the home of Teddy’s opponent, Coleman, words are exchanged and threats are so thinly veiled they might as well have been highlighted and placed under a spotlight. Ah, family.
I’m not entirely certain how this political storyline will play out and I’m not certain I much care. I’m much more interested in the acoustic tour Rayna and Deacon will be embarking on, and on the non-slutty, non-shallow portion of Juliette’s story. I actually really enjoy Juliette’s character when she’s not trying to steal Deacon from Rayna’s band/bed. It looks like next week we return to the drug-addicted mother storyline and I think she’s really going to shine. The writers are really trying to not make her just a one-note shallow bitch on wheels – so let’s hope they’re able to follow through and execute the story successfully.
Some stray observations:
- Watty White, the man responsible for discovering Rayna, offers to personally cut Scarlett and Gunnar’s demo – to which boyfriend Avery feigns happiness but we all know is really just a passive-aggressive stance that will probably eventually blow up beautifully – because he recognizes in them what he once saw in Rayna and Deacon
- Despite being head over heels in love with Rayna, Deacon has no problem with falling into bed with Juliette.
- As a diehard classic rock fan who’s purchased exactly three new albums (that weren’t new albums by men and women popular in the 70s and 80s) in the same number of years (they were by Death Cab For Cutie, Adele and Greg Holden), I have to say that I’m not entirely against the music of ‘Nashville.’ That might be because T-Bone Burnett is behind the wonderful music (Google him), but whatever is… I like it. Though I am a little confused why all of the music featured on the show is available on iTunes except the songs featuring Connie Britton. What gives, ABC?
- Also – it was great to hear Nashville-based band The Dirty Guv’nahs playing during one of the first scenes of the episode. I saw them last winter here in Columbus and they put on a fantastic show. And I just remembered that I bought their album too, so make that four albums in three years.
What did you guys think? Are you as in to Rayna/Deacon as I am? What do you think of the music? Do you think Hayden suffers from some sort of mane inferiority complex since she has to act alongside the greatest head of hair of all time?
Note: Photo courtesy of ABC.